Advanced Symbols – Part 4: Symbol Control Points

When using CC3+, you may have encountered symbols with behavior, like houses that aligns to and offsets from the wall and doors that align to, resizes themselves to match and cut holes in dungeon walls. These are what CC3+ calls smart symbols. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these symbols and we’ll have a look at how to make our own smart symbols. I’ll be using DD3 here, but this functionality is not restricted to DD3, and can be used in any kind of map CC3+ can produce.

Try it out

Before making our own smart symbols, to see the existing ones in use, try out how dungeon door reacts to differently sized walls. Start with a new small DD3 dungeon, draw a wall using the wall drawing tool (I recommend you right-click Default Wall and pick a nice looking one) at any angle. Then, make sure Snap (bottom right corner) is turned off and then pick any door from the Wall features catalog and hover the cursor over the wall. The door symbol should rotate to match the angle of the wall, and once you click, you’ll notice that it actually cuts the wall where it places the door. These are two of the features of smart symbols, aligning to existing entities and cutting lines.

This article is also available in a video version.

Available Features

Smart symbols have 5 different features available to them, as follows

  • Align on Insertion: This option allows a smart symbol to automatically rotate so it aligns to a line or the edge of a polygon. Note that this option is always active when a symbol have a control point.
  • Cut on Insertion: When this is enabled, the symbol will cut the line where inserted, removing the part of the line it would cover. This is especially useful when the symbol to be placed is not as wide as the wall, as otherwise it just looks like the symbol is on top of the wall. The main use for this is doors and windows in floor plan level maps. An additional symbol option allows you to configure the symbol to only cut on the same layer, which is very useful when you place dungeon doors to ensure they cut the wall instead of the floor which tend to be in the same location.
  • Scale Y to fit: This allows symbols to be stretched to fit the line it aligns to. For example, if you have a symbol that needs to be the same width as the wall, like an arrow slit for a castle wall, you can use this option. Note that it keep the scale in the X-direction, only the Y-direction will be changed, so the symbol will be stretched, which may or may not look good depending on the symbol.
  • Keep DynTrak Scale: This option controls whether to keep the current scale or not when aligning the symbol. With this on, the user can scale the symbol, and when it aligns to a line, it will keep that scale. If this option is off, it will revert to the default scale whenever it aligns to something, ignoring the scaling done by the user.
  • Offset form Place Point: With this enabled, the symbol won’t be placed with the first click, rather after aligning it to something and clicking, CC3+ will now ask for an offset to this point. This is used with houses because even if you want them to be aligned to the road, you don’t want them on top of it; it is also used with some wall symbols like torches, after all, you don’t want them in the middle of the wall where they align, but rather half a wall’s width offset from that. Keep in mind that with this option on, each symbol placement is actually two clicks before it is placed. The offset also only works if you aligned it to something with the first click, if you just click in an empty spot of the map, it simply gets placed and that’s that.

A note about snap

You probably noted that I told you to turn off snap in the try it out section above. This is because when you have snap on, it overrides the placement of the symbol to align with the snap grid. If you have cursor snap on as well, you’ll probably notice this as you attempt to place the symbol because the preview will be visually jumping between the snap points, but if you just have snap on and not cursor snap, the snapping doesn’t happen until you click, so you may see a nice preview where the door aligns to the wall as expected, and then, as you click, snap sets in and suddenly the door is 2 feet to the left and not aligned at all. Snap can be a great tool when mapping dungeons, but it is also important to know when to turn it off as well.

Making Our Own

Making our own smart symbols is easy, all we have to do is to add some control points. This can be done when we are creating a new symbol, or by modifying an existing one. Considering that the most common way to make symbols in CC3+ is to have CC3+ automatically generate them from a folder of png’s, the most common approach would be to edit these after importing them and add control points, so let us do that. We’ll take the lava pit symbol, and make a version that designed to align and cut a wall, for that extra hindrance the players have to overcome to get into the next room. I am just going to modify the symbol definition in the current map for this, so don’t worry about breaking your symbol catalogs.

Start by creating a new DD3 map.

Now, open the Elemental symbol catalog and click once on the Lava Pit symbol in the catalog, then hit Esc to stop placing it. Even if you didn’t place the symbol in the map, this click copied the symbol definition into the map, which is what we need for now. We’ll now modify this symbol definition.

Now, go to the Symbols menu and pick the Symbol Manager option. In the symbol manager window, find the pit symbol from the previous step, click on it to select it, then hit the Edit button. This closes down symbol manager, and tells us to define the corners of our edit window. This is just CC3+’s way of asking us how big that edit window should be, so make it as big as you want, possibly about the same size as the main drawing window (it has to be a little smaller, since the clicks need to be inside the drawing window.) You should now see the symbol edit window overlapping the main drawing window. Turn off Snap, but turn on Ortho.

Now, from the Symbols menu, pick Add Control Points. CC3+ will ask you to define two points, which are the start and end of a line. We’ll want a straight horizontal line that starts at the center of the left edge of the symbol and goes to the center of the right edge. Note that this line does define the length of the cut, so it is important that it starts and ends a precise on the edge of the symbol as possible. You can’t use precicion modifiers here, so just eyeball it as close as possible, Ortho will ensure the line is perfectly straight. After drawing this line, the Control Points Effects dialog (image above) will pop up, make sure Align on Insertion and Cut on Insertion are selected, and nothing else before hitting ok.

Now, use Change Properties on the line you just drew. Set the color to magenta (color #6) and the WALLS layer. We set the color to make it more visible as a control line (this won’t be visible in the map), and we set the layer because we only want it to operate on the WALLS layer, this way it will only align to and cut walls, not floors or other features, assuming things are on the correct layers. I’ve alos changed the line width to 0.2 in my screenshot, but this is really only so you can see it in my image, and not something I would normally do, you should just see a pixel-thin line on your own symbol.

From the Symbols menu, pick Symbol Options, and enable the option that says Control points only cut on the same layer, then click OK.

Now, close the symbol editing window, and say Yes when it ask you to keep changes (If you messed up, just say no, then start the editing from scratch).

Finally, I think this symbol is a bit to large for our use here, so open the symbol manager again, pick our pit symbol, hit the Scale button, and set the scale to 0.5

Testing Our Symbol

Symbol is ready to test. To test it, draw a simple dungeon where you have a wall with room on both sides of it. Make sure to use the proper tools so that the entities ends up on the right layers. Since we told our symbol to only cut on the walls layer, it won’t align to nor cut the wall if it isn’t on this layer. Using the basic tools manually is fine, but in that case, make sure the walls are on the WALLS layer, and that the floors are not.

Now, just click Symbols in Map to show the current symbols in the map instead of from the symbol catalog, pick our pit, and try to align it over the wall and place it. If you did things correctly, it should align nicely and cut the wall nicely, like in my image below. You can also download my map file.

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